The Department of Interior Architecture & Design is proud to announce signature speakers in our Fall 2020 series, each of whom will provide context on special topics for our students in the program and in the College of Fine Arts. For those students, alumni or friends who are not students in the Department, please register below.
Bryan Soukup is the Vice President of Government & Public Affairs for the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). As such, Soukup leads the American Society of Interior Designers’ efforts to advocate for the interior design profession from a policy and legislative standpoint at the federal and state levels.
Previously he served as Director of Resilience Initiatives and as a registered federal and state lobbyist for the International Code Council (ICC). At these roles, he was responsible for federal and state advocacy, outreach, and policy development. He served as the International Code Council’s chief ambassador to national and international resilience and sustainability projects including the ICC co- founded Alliance for National & Community Resilience (ANCR), an organization devoted to creating the world’s first whole-community resilience benchmarking system.
Kia Weatherspoon leads Determined by Design, a minority + veteran-owned business.
Determined by Design specializes in the creation of beautiful, functional and stimulating interior spaces that enable the progress of people and their neighborhoods. In partnership with integrated teams, the firm provides full service interior design for multifamily affordable and supportive housing properties, boutique hotels and small businesses located in economically challenged and emerging communities.
The Determined by Design team is driven by a commitment to establish exceptional interior design as a standard for all, rather than a luxury for few. From real estate developers to architects, and property owners to entrepreneurs — the firm collaborates with many who share a common vision of uplifting lives and enriching places.
Melanie Murata (BS Interior Design 2013; MS Interior Design 2014) is Principle and Founder of Karu, a design firm based in Milan, Italy with a unique global point of view and a digital design process that is reimagined. The firm connects clients to an exclusive interior architecture vision and handcrafted #madeinitaly selections. They work with their clients intimately to create spaces that perfectly align with their vision and business goals, and each project is 100% unique and academically correct. As digital experts, they make the design process simple.
The KARU design program is a digital community space built on supporting, connecting, informing, and elevating the next generation of designers of color. Rooted in quality conversations, this program seeks to form community and empower young designers in their journey.
Toni Wyre serves as Senior Associate for Polk, Stanley, Wilcox Architects, based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Known for creating modern and contemporary interiors that feel warm and inviting, Toni has worked in education, healthcare, corporate, civic, hospitality and residential design, receiving over 30 regional awards in the past 10 years.
Wyre will discuss her work with healthcare and mental and behavioral healthcare project sectors. With vast product and material knowledge, Toni has led over $15 million in furniture installations in the past 3 years. Toni’s extensive knowledge in sustainable certification allowed her the opportunity to be the first designer in Arkansas to lead a 100% Greenguard certified furniture installation. Her commitment to team collaboration urges clients to be involved throughout the entire design process, creating positive end-results.
Recent professional achievements include national speaking opportunities and judging national design competitions for magazines such as Healthcare Design. Her presence on the national board of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) allows her to interact with some of the most talented designers in the nation. Toni is also an instructor at the University of Central Arkansas teaching professional practice and advanced studios.
Jennifer Kolstad is the Global Design Director for Ford Motor Company. In her role, she provides design oversight focused on Ford’s physical environments and seeks to unify Ford’s brand language across typologies through architecture and design, investigating opportunities for cultural and behavioral change, elevating design impact internal and external to the global Ford ecosystem. With a core belief in collaboration, her mission is to ideate future-state readiness for the physical infrastructure of a next-gen mobility company.
Dedicated to the longevity of the interior design profession holistically, Jennifer is the 2020 Chair of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Since joining the National Board in 2016, her focus has been the broader application of the interior design professional’s human-centered expertise in every design equation.
Kolstad is a dedicated mentor to next-gen designers, a regular juror of national and international award competitions. SCALE keynote for the 2020 and 2017/2018 ASID National Student Summit, and was nominated to the 2019 Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum National Design Awards. Prior to Ford, Jennifer designed at HKS, SOM, Gensler and ALDAR in the United Arab Emirates.